From the top of the Bougnon hill, about 9 km from the seaside resort town of Sainte-Maxime, the dark green wooded hills of the Maures bounce across the horizon for miles. From the peak of the Cabasse, the bay of Saint-Raphael appears to the east like the cusp of a hand that holds the sea. To the south, the Issambres, then the tip of the St Tropez bay.
Rusty dirt paths slice through the mountain flanks. They serve as access roads for fire-fighters, but also for mountain bikers and hikers.
The Bougnon hill and the peak of the Cabasse didn't disappoint us today. Clouds cleared enough to show us the sea tucked behind the hills.
The hike is 1.5 hours, with a steep climb and downhill at the end to reach the Col de Cabasse and its panorama.
N98 seaside road from Saint-Maxime. Turn left into the D8 heading to "Roquebrune-sur-Argens par le Col de Bougnon." Pass Le Hameau des Issambres and park next to the archery range on the left. In front of the range, a D8 street sign indicates "Col du Bougnon, Alt 154 m."
Head up the F232 "Cabasse" fire road. Leave the F35 to your left as you climb (this will be your return route). When you reach a crossing of paths by a green cistern labeled RAG9, continue on the F232 path, the left-most track until you reach the F35 at a hairpin intersection. Take the F35 on your left all the way to the intersection point with the F232.
The F35 section of the hike involves an energetic climb followed by a equally leg-burning descent - though the climb is tough, you're uplifted by bushes now (in mid-march) starting to flower in whites and purples, cork oaks in their sinuous trunks, and the caress of a cool sea breeze whooshing from below the hills.